On a regular analog watch, there’s a small pocket of air between the face of the watch and the inside surface of the crystal. On his new Ressence Type 3 watch, however, Belgian designer Benoit Mintiens has filled that space with a clear refractive fluid. As a result, its revolving indications appear to be projected right onto its domed crystal. You could almost think of it as the Magic 8 Ball of high-end timepieces.

The main components of the 57-jewel watch are made almost entirely of titanium, with the exceptions of its sapphire crystal and 28 gears. The fluid is a type of naphtha, which is composed of a flammable mixture of hydrocarbons – so you wouldn’t want to break it. A thermal valve compensates for the expansion and contraction of that fluid, as caused by fluctuations in the ambient temperature.

The refractive index of the fluid and the crystal is such that the indications appear as a two-dimensional display that follows the inside curve of the sapphire.

Those indications consist of separate mechanical dials that indicate hours, minutes, seconds, AM/PM and date. The luminous “hands” are engraved into rotating discs that line up with numbers on rings surrounding them – the watch doesn’t have any actual mechanical hands in the traditional sense.

For added fun and complexity, not only do the individual indicator discs rotate, but so does the entire gathered display of them. Exactly how the rotating discs are able to accurately keep time while being part of a rotating display themselves is something of a mystery, although Ressence explains it simply by stating, “Information [is] transmitted from movement to indications by micro-magnetic fields.”

Along with lacking regular hands, the Type 3 also has no crown. Instead, users wind it and set the time by twisting one of the nested rings (pictured above) built into the back of the watch.

All this innovation does come at a price, however. Should you be wanting one, expect to part with €23,000 (US$30,000).

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